What a busy few days it’s been down here in Asuncion! The last two weeks there has been this big what I would call fair, just outside Asuncion – La Exposición. Really, the Expo has to do with farming and livestock, but it’s also an opportunity for any business or organization to showcase their work and their cause. It is like a mini-city at the Expo, with hundreds of stores set up for buying Artisan Crafts and Jewelry, recharging your Saldo (phone credits), eating Empanadas and Lomitos (amazing sandwich filled with chicken, beef, lettuce, tomato, egg, sauce of some kind, and I’m sure other things as well. Top that with a layer of mayo and mustard per bite and it’s HEAVEN.) You also have the opportunity to see some of the most well-cared for beautiful livestock. Cows that weigh in at a minimum of 1000 lbs, that are just HUGE. They did, unfortunately, look terribly sad to be tied to a short rope and lined up next to about 5 other cows per row, but supposedly there are rules about how long each cow can be on display (about 5 days) before they have to be retired from show. They also had some award winning show horses that were simply beautiful.
What else could you find at the Expo this past Friday night? THE OSO PANDA!! A few women from the office, Fatima (biologist) and Sonia (forestry expert), were asked to give a presentation on the work of WWF in the Atlantic Forest. We showed up armed with Panda pins, car decals, t-shirts, and of course the Panda costume!
Our Panda of honor was Laura – and thank god it was her, because I couldn’t imagine being stuck in a Panda costume with hundreds of kids and adults alike running over full speed for a chance to take a photo with me! People loved the Panda. They didn’t even know what it was for and they loved it. Little kids came running over, arms open, and threw their little bodies into Laura’s legs. There were looks of excitement and joy, and a few of anger or terror, but overall it was joy. Women were quick to pass their babies along to the strange adult dressed up as a bear, who’s head was so big and line of vision was limited. I eventually had to ask mothers not to hand over their babies for their own safety (poor Laura could hardly see the infants being thrust her direction!)
Overall, a great representation of the WWF and conservation! Here is a brief compilation of some of the photos of the Panda’s admirers.